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Determining the Significant Aspects. EPA Regions 9 & 10 and The Federal Network for Sustainability. Objectives. After this discussion, you should : Describe the importance of significant environmental aspects for your EMS.

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Determining the Significant Aspects

EPA Regions 9 & 10

and

The Federal Network for Sustainability


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Objectives

After this discussion, you should :

  • Describe the importance of significant environmental aspects for your EMS.

  • Describe factors to consider in evaluating the significance of environmental aspects and impacts.


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Overview

  • Definition

  • EMS Requirements

  • Risk Assessment

  • Decision Matrices


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Definition

  • A significant environmental aspect is an environmental aspect that has or can have a significant environmental impact.

  • Significance could be tied to:

    • Environmental concerns

    • Natural resource concerns

    • Regulatory or legal exposure

    • Business or mission concerns

    • Concerns of interested parties


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EMS Requirements

  • ISO 14001 uses “significant” aspects and impacts as the basis for developing objectives and preparing programs.

  • The facility determines which aspects and impacts are “significant.”

  • The EMS must address all significant aspects.


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Considerations for Determining Significance

  • Legal and other requirement

  • Toxicity

  • Consequence / Magnitude

  • Risk / Likelihood

  • Sustainable

  • Others


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Several Methods for Determining Significance

  • Risk Assessment

  • Decision Matrices

  • Significance Set by Management


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Risk Assessment

  • Risk assessment is a tool used by managers to provide information for decision making.

  • Risk assessment may be formal or informal, but it is always there.


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Risk Management

  • Risk management addresses unacceptable risk.

  • Residual risk is the unidentified risk plus any acceptable, identified risk remaining after risk management.


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Characterizing Risk

  • Exposure - How big of a problem is it?

    • Global, regional, local?

  • Severity - How bad will it get?

  • Probability - How likely is it to occur?

    • Daily, weekly, monthly, annually, in emergencies, only when a certain event happens, when a new project starts?


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Risk Assessment

  • Estimate exposure, severity, and probability for each aspect

  • Prepare relative rank for each aspect

  • Compare ranking to determine significance


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Aspect

Exposure

Severity

Probability

Total

Vehicle exhaust

4

2

3

24

Hazardous waste

1

4

2

8

Food waste

3

1

2

6

Risk Assessment Example

Not real data. Scale of 1 to 5 used with 1 being low and 5 high. Numbers were multiplied to give totals. No weighting factors used.


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Decision Matrices

  • A decision matrix is a tool used to quantify a risk assessment

  • Identify key criteria

  • Determine relative ranking

  • Evaluate significance


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Key Criteria for Significance

  • Environmental impact

  • Health & safety

  • Regulatory or Executive Order requirement

  • Cost

  • Mission impact

  • Environmental policy commitments

  • Community impact


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Decision Matrix Example

Aspect

Env.Imp

H&S

Cost of

Mission

Comm.

Total

Change

Vehicle

3

2

-

1

1

3

8

exhaust

Hazardous

4

3

-

2

2

2

9

waste

Food

1

1

-

1

1

1

3

waste

National data. Scale of 1 to 5 used with 1 being low and 5 high. Numbers were added to give totals. No weighting factors used.


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Significance May Be Defined by Management

  • Environmental Goals

  • Management Priorities


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Risk Assessment and Decision Matrices are only suggestions

Refer to your agency’s risk management procedures

Establish a procedure and stick with it

Make a list of significant aspects and the impacts associated with them

Determining Significance


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Where Do Significant Aspects Fit in Your EMS?

  • EMS manages your significant aspects, impacts

  • Objectives and targets for your significant aspects shall be considered

  • Employees need to be aware of significant environmental aspects of their jobs

  • Organizations shall consider processes for external communication of significant aspects and document decision

  • Organization shall have procedures to monitor operations & activities that can have signif. impact(s)


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Summary

  • Significant aspects are defined based on facility-specific criteria

  • A formal procedure is used to evaluate significance

  • Preparing a list of significant aspects is a big part of an EMS


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Exercise 4: Determining significant Aspects

Use reproducible methodology; e.g., rank using a formula containing factors the organization considers important

Potential factors

  • severity

  • probability/frequency

  • risk (environmental/

    health/financial)

  • toxicity

  • external concerns

  • ability to control/

    influence/investigate

  • duration

  • regulatory concern


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Examples of Factor Ratings

Severity

  • 5 Catastrophic

  • 4 High

  • 3 Moderate

  • 2 Low

  • 1 Slight

  • 0 Positive Impact

Regulatory Importance

  • 5 Current violation

  • 4 Non-compliance, past 3 yrs

  • 3 Non-compliance, past 5 yrs

  • 2 In compliance

  • 1 Below regulatory cut-off

  • 0 Unregulated


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Examples of Factor Ratings

Probability

  • 5 Certainty

  • 4 Likely

  • 3 So/So

  • 2 Unlikely

  • 1 Very unlikely

Potential for Increased Control

  • 5 High, with cost savings

  • 4 High at low cost

  • 3 Moderate

  • 2 Low

  • 1 Low and very costly


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Example of Rating Scheme

Significance =

(Severity + RI + Prob) Control